When would this be useful? If your site has a blog with public commenting turned on, links within those comments could pass your reputation to pages that you may not be comfortable vouching for. Blog comment areas on pages are highly susceptible to comment spam. Nofollowing these user-added links ensures that you're not giving your page's hard-earned reputation to a spammy site.
Traditionally, defining a target audience involves determining their age, sex, geographic locations, and especially their needs (aka pain points). Check out usability.gov’s description of personas and how to do task analysis & scenarios for more details, or better yet, read Vanessa Fox’s upcoming book about personas related to search and conversion.

Write articles rich in content. Quality articles will get ranked better in search results. Make sure that your articles address the needs of your readers, and that they can find all of the information they need in one spot. This is the most effective means for increasing traffic to a website; offering people something that they cannot obtain elsewhere, or at least, not to the level of quality that you are offering it.[1]
Really its just a matter of getting creative - grab a cup of caffeine and think for a minute about what resources you have to try to get some insight on your visitors (or target markets) and their needs before you dive in.  Think about how much time it might take you (or what the cost of the reports would be if you are going to buy some market research reports), and tack that onto your billing as an optional service.
By 2004, search engines had incorporated a wide range of undisclosed factors in their ranking algorithms to reduce the impact of link manipulation. In June 2007, The New York Times' Saul Hansell stated Google ranks sites using more than 200 different signals.[26] The leading search engines, Google, Bing, and Yahoo, do not disclose the algorithms they use to rank pages. Some SEO practitioners have studied different approaches to search engine optimization, and have shared their personal opinions.[27] Patents related to search engines can provide information to better understand search engines.[28] In 2005, Google began personalizing search results for each user. Depending on their history of previous searches, Google crafted results for logged in users.[29]
Make it as easy as possible for website visitors to connect with you by adding a live chat box to your homepage. Include a name and photo in the chat box so that users know they are talking to a real, live person and not just an automated robot. When there is nobody to monitor the live chat, be sure to mention that, by saying something along the lines of, “Nobody is here right now but feel free to leave a message and we will get back to you shortly!”
Nothing looks sloppier than websites that don’t abide by any sort of style guide. Is your blog section a complete deviation from your website? If so, this very well could throw off your visitors and decrease engagement. Instead, make sure that all of your web pages are consistent in design, font and even voice. For instance, if you use a very formal tone on your homepage, but a super casual tone in your blog posts, this could highlight brand inconsistency.
After you have identified your target keywords, you need to create a page targeting that keyword. This is known as SEO content. In many cases, it makes sense to publish a blog post targeting keywords. However, you need to make decisions based on the search intent. If your target keyword phrase is “buy black Nike shoes”, then it doesn’t make sense to create a long-form piece of content.
I second Rand's comment!  Congrats on moving from the corporate world to the independent consultant.  This is my goal for the near future.  I too have been testing the waters of independent consulting, but it doesn't quite pay the bills yet!  Sometimes I feel like I should find a mentor who has been where I am now and is where I want to go.  Perhaps i'll find a few in this community over time!
I second Rand's comment!  Congrats on moving from the corporate world to the independent consultant.  This is my goal for the near future.  I too have been testing the waters of independent consulting, but it doesn't quite pay the bills yet!  Sometimes I feel like I should find a mentor who has been where I am now and is where I want to go.  Perhaps i'll find a few in this community over time!
For example, if a swimming pool business is trying to rank for "fiberglass pools" -- which is receiving 110,000 searches per month -- this short-tail keyword can be the one that represents the overarching topic on which they want to create content. The business would then identify a series of long-tail keywords that relate to this short-tail keyword, have reasonable monthly search volume, and help to elaborate on the topic of fiberglass pools. We'll talk more about these long-tails in the next step of this process.
Whatever industry you’re in, chances are there are at least one or two major conventions and conferences that are relevant to your business. Attending these events is a good idea – speaking at them is even better. Even a halfway decent speaking engagement is an excellent way to establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry and gain significant exposure for your site.
Start browsing through articles in the same category as your content. Like the articles you genuinely like, and downvote the ones you’re not interested in. Do this for a few minutes every day.This step is very important – StumbleUpon uses the data to learn what kind of content you like. When you submit content, StumbleUpon will show it to other users who like the same kind of content.Act like your ideal reader, and that’s who StumbleUpon will share your content with.
For example, let’s say I have a health site. I have several types of articles on health, drug information, and information on types of diseases and conditions. My angle on the site is that I’m targeting seniors. If I find out seniors are primarily interested in information on prescription drug plans and cheap blood pressure medication, then I know that I want to provide information specifically on those things. This allows me to hone in on that market’s needs and de-prioritize or bypass other content.
I love your post. I keep coming back because you always have great content I can use in my business as well as share. Since I own my own Digital Marketing company I guess you would be one of THE influencers in Internet Marketing field. I just started my business and because most influencers on twitter are talking about Content Marketing, that is what I have been writing about. But my site is only about a month old so I will just stay consistent in my writing. I’m also in the process of changing my navigation bar so be know how to get to what they want faster. Which would be “what is SEO”, etc. Thanks and would love any advice you can give me.

Just ridiculously good as usual Brian, you continue to set the bar higher and higher each time I see a new post from you, well done. A quick point regarding point 16 about Google only counting the first anchor to a page, what is your opinion about links that go to DIFFERENT pages on the same site. I believe they pass equal weighting but would be good to get your option.
Hey Sammy, I would always advise against buying traffic, social followers, or anything else in that area. It mostly ends up being a vanity metric without business benefits. It’s always better to earn the traffic by creating a valuable, high-quality website and marketing it properly. When you do that, you attract the kind of visitors who are interested in what you have to offer, which is usually better for the bottom line.
Thanks for bringing up this point - I agree Eric - competitive positioning can help you determine value that you bring to the table that your competitors dont.  I'm all for it.  Neilsen does some reports that provide awareness, likelihood to recommend, sentiment and other insightsfor your site/brand and your competitors. You can also pull some of that type of insight out of social listening platforms like NetBase, SM2, Radian6, Dow Jones, Nielsen, and so many others.  I've even done some hacked compeitove sentiment comprisons before using Search: searching for [brand or feature] + "like", "love", hate", "wish" etc. 

On the other hand, I'd like to know how many people constitutes your new experience as an indipedent consultant? Infact, as others noted in the comments here, what you suggest is perfect especially for an in-house SEO situation or in for an Web Marketing Agency with at least 5/8 people working in. Even if all you say is correct and hopefully what everybodies should do, I honestly find quite difficult to dedicate all the amount of time and dedication in order to check all the steps described in your post. Or, at least, I cannot imagine myself doing it for all the clients.
In the real world, its not so easy. For example, I have 2 niches where I’m trying to use your technique. By keywords, its Software for Moving and Free Moving Quotes. I have 2 websites that related to each of them, emoversoftware.com (emover-software.com as initial, they linked together) and RealMoving.com ( for latter keyword). So, to begin with, none of those niches has Wikipedia articles, so your first suggestion will not work. But, in general suggestions, you are advising to get backlinks (of authoritative sites of course). But check this out – my site emover-software.com has only 4(!) backlinks (https://openlinkprofiler.org/r/emover-software.com#.VXTaOs9VhBc) and, however, listed as #1 (or #2) by my keyword. (moving software, software for moving, software for moving company). RealMoving.com has more than 600 backlinks and is way back in ranks ( 170 and up) by my keyword. Even though those sites have different competition, its still makes no sense! It doesn’t seem like Google even cares about your backlinks at all! I also checked one of my competitor’s backlinks, its more than 12000, however, his rank by keyword related to moving quotes even worse than mine!.
Usually Search-engines automatically crawl your articles if it is high-quality but you should also try to submit your blog to search engines like Google, Bing, and Ask etc. Search engines like Google have already simplified the way of submitting your content. Google Webmaster Tools makes it easy for every webmaster to get their website crawled faster.
Usually Search-engines automatically crawl your articles if it is high-quality but you should also try to submit your blog to search engines like Google, Bing, and Ask etc. Search engines like Google have already simplified the way of submitting your content. Google Webmaster Tools makes it easy for every webmaster to get their website crawled faster.
Optimizing a website may involve editing its content, adding content, and modifying HTML and associated coding to both increase its relevance to specific keywords and remove barriers to the indexing activities of search engines.[citation needed] Promoting a site to increase the number of backlinks, or inbound links, is another SEO tactic. By May 2015, mobile search had surpassed desktop search.[3]
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